April 21, 2013 at 4:55 AM ET
There is no reason not to love Earth. Despite what scientists speculate about Mars or distant "water worlds" discovered by NASA's Kepler probe, this planet is the only game in town if humans want to keep breathing, drinking water and, you know, existing in the near future. But as our entertainment choices frequently point out, we're not always the best caretakers of this big blue marble in space. In honor of Earth Day on Monday here are a few films and television shows that provide food for thought about why we should celebrate our planet every day of the year.
'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'
The opening minutes of 1991's "T2" deliver a jarring scene: Los Angeles in 2029 is nothing but a leveled wasteland of twisted bits of metal and piles of human skulls scattered about. It’s as dark as midnight, dusty, with not a single ray of natural light, not a blade of green grass, not a drop of water, not a tree branch. Earth is nearly devoid of the living, overrun instead by Skynet’s terrifying cyborgs. Kinda makes you appreciate our blue skies, (somewhat) clean air, mountains, rivers, human-run planet and non-murderous machines, doesn’t it? So take a break and get up from your desk. Go outside, suck in some fresh air, bask in the sunshine and be thankful that your TV isn’t a T-1000 intent on crushing your skull in its poly-alloy hands. -- Anna Chan
'Planet of the Apes'
Look, we’re not saying we humans have treated our dear Mother Earth well. But we’re not ready to hand it over to the monkeys yet. Don’t get us wrong: We loved Cornelius and Zira in the original "Planet of the Apes" film series that started in 1968. But the planet wasn’t any better under Ape Law, what with blowing up New York ("YOU MANIACS!") so that the Statue of Liberty was left chest-deep in the sand, and creating a race of mutants who worship the atom bomb. Damn dirty apes! We may not want them ruling our planet, but we puny humans continue to go bananas for ape movies, with the next one, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” coming in 2014. -- Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
The main conceit of "Revolution," for those who haven’t seen the NBC series that first started airing in 2012, is that the power goes out. Not for a night, not for a week, but for always. There’s just no more electricity. In fact, anything that has to remotely be powered up – cars, planes and the like – is unable to do so. The net result goes beyond not having a refrigerator, air conditioning and creature comforts. It also means all those digital photos you took of your family are gone forever. Your ability to move from point A to point B? Better hope points A and B are close together. Otherwise your feet will be getting pretty tired. And when everyone’s blaming each other for the sorry state of affairs, leaders are ousted and tempers flare, who can you trust? The show isn’t about saving Earth or being "green." Rather, it illustrates just how thoroughly everything is intertwined on this planet of ours. Take care of it, and be nice to people. -- Courtney Hazlett
'March of the Penguins'
While "March of the Penguins" definitely brought the cute factor, the 2005 documentary also explored some heavy environmental issues. In addition to giving viewers an awe-inspiring glimpse of the natural habitat of the emperor penguins of Antarctica, the Academy Award winning film also showcased the effects that global warming has had on the adorable, noble creatures. Not only is the footage visually stunning, taking viewers under water and across the icy Antarctic terrain, but it taught that animals are much like humans in how they love, interact and live. Plus, who doesn’t like to watch baby penguins run around for 80 minutes? -- Ashley Majeski
The title robot in Pixar's animated "WALL-E" is so adorable. With his fixation on movie musicals, it's almost easy to forget that on at least one level, the film is an ecological horror story: WALL-E exists solely to help a garbage-covered (thanks, Buy-n-Large Corp.), human-depopulated Earth clean again so that humans can (in theory) eventually return to live there. The idea that humans can survive the trashing of their own planet is only vaguely comforting. The notion that they've been living in space for hundreds of years and are literally fat lazybones is not precisely a positive comment on human nature. If any movie will inspire you to pick up that piece of trash you absentmindedly tossed aside, it's this one. -- Randee Dawn
Oxygen is awesome! That is a legit takeaway from the sci-fi thriller, which wrapped up its run early in 2013 and featured antagonists called Observers -- created, futuristic humans who pumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because current-day Earth's air was too oxygenated for their super-evolved DNA. (They also paved over Central Park -- heresy!) These visitors from the future came from a world saturated with pollution, so be warned: If you want new generations to be able to blow dandelion seeds in the park (instead of struggling for breath in an apocalyptic urban landscape), do what you can to protect our environment. Also, don't create humans without emotions in the first place. -- Dru Moorhouse